A year ago this morning, Mason City residents couldn’t take a shower, drink from the tap or flush their toilets as the city’s water plant had been inundated by flooding. Mason City resident Sally Pressly lives in a home along the banks of the Winnebago River, a house that was quickly filled with foul-smelling muck.
Pressly says she was stunned how quickly people stepped up to help. She says: "Almost immediately, in fact, within two hours of us being evacuated, we got a cell phone call from my son’s friend who was vacationing in Yellowstone National Park.
He said: ‘We’re on vacation. Go to our house. That’s your home base.’ Three other families offered us the same thing over the course of the next month because we didn’t have a place to go."
Pressly says was overwhelmed by volunteers who helped try to clean out the waterfront home as best as they could. "Another cleaned out one of our little rooms, the breakfast nook, just to show me that there was going to be a clean room, that it was possible," she says.
"They cleaned that in the first three days. Eventually, that all had to be gutted anyway, and I kept saying, ‘I think it’s going to be gutted,’ but they just got it wiped. We didn’t go in that room and we would just look in there and see that it would eventually all return to that state."
Pressly says there was one man who worked on gutting the basement for an entire day and they never even knew his name. She says the outpouring of help was positively heartwarming.
"Not just volunteers, but people that we had to pay like electricians and plumbers, but they went so far beyond the call of duty — loaning us cords, running electricity from homes that had electricity a block away, connecting cord after cord to keep our generators going," Pressly says.
"People truly brought us out of our darkest, darkest days with their energy and their positive attitude and their humor to keep us going." It’s estimated Mason City had at least nine-million dollars in damage from the flood, with two-million in damage to the city’s infrastructure. It’s also estimated that when the flood knocked out the city water, it caused $14-million in economic damage to city businesses.